Pre-dating Strategies For A Lifelong Partner
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You may see “happy lifelong relationships” as a desirable, but very unpredictable goal. You've had great relationships fail. You've seen it happen to most everybody you know. Is it possible to generate a relationship that provides you with a high level of certainty that it will last? I say it is.
First let's get clear on one thing. Your chances of generating a lifelong relationship from the approach most people use will leave you with maybe a 5% chance of having success. You might ask, "Which approach is that?" It's the one we see in the movies and on TV: You meet someone you're attracted to you, you enjoy spending time together, and presto, soon you're happily married and get along famously.
One might call this approach "following your heart and passions, and ignoring your head". This approach usually produces less than happy results. And, by the way, have you noticed that the celebrities who portray those types of relationships don’t seem to do well with this approach either?
The approach I’ve developed is about doing some planning and strategizing to get your thinking self and your spiritual self up to level with your heart and passions. The first priority in this approach is to identify what you require in a partner and not settle for less.
Step 1: Make an extensive list of the qualities and characteristics you want in a partner. When you've run out of wants, ask yourself some questions in order to tease out other hidden wants, such as "What do I NOT want in a partner”. With each "I don't want" you've listed, turn it into a "do want". For example, if your last partner was not a social person and you hated that, put on your list that you want someone who is enjoys being social.
Step 2: Separate the list into two categories--preferences and requirements. There are some experts who suggest simply making one combined list of wants. The downside of this approach is that, in the beginning of a relationship, it is too easy to focus on the person’s great qualities and forget about your requirements for a lifelong partner. “I can’t believe it! He likes my favorite thing. Opera!” At this stage, the fact that he’s a devout Christian and you aren’t into religion doesn’t often register on your radar.
On the other hand, dividing your want list into “preferences” and “requirements” makes it much easier for you to stay clear on what is truly important as you’re meeting new potential partners. Instead of taking 2 months or 2 years to find out if a particular person is right for you, with this approach it can take as little as 2 weeks.
What types of qualities go on the requirement list? Consider areas of compatibility around family and children, religious/spiritual views, sexuality/attraction, level of open-mindedness, and interest in health and fitness. I emphatically recommend a commitment to honesty and living by the Golden Rule. Also essential is a commitment to communicate to resolve differences, along with a willingness to use a third party when you can’t untangle a conflict by yourselves. See article 8 (of 14) Essential Elements for a Healthy Relationship for more ideas.
Keep your list of requirements to 10-15 items. Your preferences and "it would be nice to have" list can be longer. Focus on the most important stuff, and let the "universe" fill in the gaps. In fact, you will probably find the partner you choose has many lovely qualities that you didn’t put on a list.
Step 3: Use an expert to guide you in the process of finding and keeping a partner. Be aware that you need the guidance of an expert most when you think you don't--when you've first met someone and things are going great. You only have to look at your and others’ past relationships to tell you that being in love and having a great time is a poor predictor of a good, lasting relationship.
Our culture hasn’t embraced the idea of getting support for relationships—except maybe when things start to go bad. Yet, we don’t think twice about using an expert to maintain our car or computer. Isn’t your relationship at least as important?
In conclusion, a lifelong partnership can bring a richness that beautifully enhances the quality of all aspects of your life, and blesses and inspires those it touches. Putting some thought into your future partnership and getting a mentor can vastly improve your chances of generating a match made in heaven.
Bill White, MA, is a love relationship coach for singles and couples in Tucson. He has a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. Bill offers coaching by phone, e-mail, or in person. He can be reached at 520-319-9132 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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